What does it mean to be a global citizen ??

World Wide WebAs the technology advances and governence is increasingly conducted beyond parameters of the nation-state, the concept of global citizenship remains mysteriously absent. What does the term mean in historical terms and what practices might help its evolution into coherent and democratic political practice? A global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices. Such a definition of global citizenship is based on 2 assumptions which this article explores: (a) that there is such a thing as an emerging world community to which people can identify; (b) that such a community has a nascent set of values and practices. (source: Ron Israel – Open Democracy – 13/02/2013)

Historically human beings always have organized themselves into groups and communities based on shared identity. Such identity gets forged in response to variety of human needs, economic, political, religious, social. As group identities grow stronger, those who hold them organize into communities, articulate shared values, build governance structures that reflect their beliefs. Today the forces of global engagement are helping some people identify themselves as global citizens, meaning they have a sense of belonging to a world community. This growing global identity in large part is made possible by forces of modern information, communication, transportation technologies. In increasing ways these technologies are strengthening our ability to connect to the rest of the world: through the internet; through participation in global economy; through the ways in which world-wide environmental factors play havoc with our lives; empathy we feel when we see pictures of humanitarian disasters, civil conflicts, and wars in other countries; through the ease with which we can travel and visit other parts of the world.

Those who see ourselves as global citizens are not abandoning other identities; such as allegiances to our countries, ethnicities, political beliefs. These traditional identities give meaning to our lives and will continue to help shape who we are. As a result of living in a globalized world, we find we have an added layer of responsibility. We have concern and share of responsibility for what is happening to the planet as a whole, we are members of a world-wide community of people who share this concern. The values being proposed for world community are not esoteric and obscure. They are the values that the world leaders have been advocating for the past 100 years. They include human rights, religious pluralism, gender equity, rule of law, environmental protection, sustainable worldwide economic growth, poverty alleviation, prevention and cessation of conflicts between countries, elimination of weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian assistance, preservation of cultural diversity. Since WWar II efforts have been undertaken to develop global policies and institutional structures can support these enduring values. Such efforts have been made by international organizations, sovereign states, transnational corps, NGOs, international professional associations, and others. They have resulted in a growing body of international agreements, treaties, legal statutes, technical standards. Yet, despite such efforts, we have a long way to go before there is global policy and institutional infrastructure that can support our emerging world community and the values it stands for. There are significant gaps of policy in many domains, large questions about how to get countries and organizations, to comply with existing policy frame-works, issues of accountability – transparency. Most importantly, from global citizenship perspective, there is absence of mechanisms that enable greater citizen participation in growing number of institutions practicing global governance.

Governance at the global level, for the most part, is in the hands of the representatives of sovereign states and technocrats. Global governance organizational leaders are usually distant and removed from those that their institutions serve. Therefore most people feel disconnected and alienated from the global governance arena, making it difficult to build a sense of grass-roots community at the global level. There is an urgent need for a cadre of citizen leaders who can play activist roles in forming world community. Such global citizenship activism can take many forms, including: advocating, at local-global level, for policy and programmatic solutions that address global problems; participating in the decision-making processes of global governance organizations; adopting+promoting changes in behavior that help protect earth’s environment; contributing to world-wide humanitarian relief efforts; and organizing events that celebrate the diversity in world music and art, culture and spiritual traditions. Instinctively, most of us feel a connection to others around the world facing similar challenges to ourselves, yet we lack adequate tools, resources, and support to act on this emotion. Our ways of thinking and being are still colored by trapping of old allegiances and ways of seeing things no longer are as valid as they used to be. Nonetheless, there is a longing to pull back the veil that keeps us from more clearly seeing world as a whole, finding more sustainable ways of connecting with those who share our common humanity.

+ Global Citizens’ Initiative seeks to bring together people and organizations to promote the practice of global citizenship and the building of world community.

For more information visit: www.theglobalcitizensinitiative.org

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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